Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Whole God Issue So Far

[*Google apparently cares very little about Blogger, so sometimes the rendering of fonts and especially font sizes, will show up here very glitched. This has been going on for many years, a clear indicator of something I won't mention in this context.

**With regard to the content of the brief essays below, I'll just preface them with the following: Kai Nielsen will eventually be known as the atheist who saved belief in God and consequentially Christianityand with a single remark.¹ Caveat speculator.]


     THE FAKE PROBLEM OF EVIL
     As Schopenhauer said about pantheism: you don't add anything to the world by calling it God. And you don't add anything to something disliked by calling it Evil and capitalizing the first letter of that word.
     It is logically impossible for there to be a problem of evil.
     The concept of evil is meaningless if any kind of perfect, problem-free, and indefectible goodness beyond human disdain, dislike, disgust, loathing, or hate is in question. If Goodness is in question, then there never was evil to begin with.
     One must assume perfect goodness in order to argue for or against it.One must have a good argument, after all, one way or the other. To recognize imperfections assumes the perfect is real and known.The idea of the perfect is the only thing that enables us to identify deviations from it. All fault-finding of any kind is based on an ideal, perfect goodness of some kind beyond our whims and preferences which also depend on it for legitimacy and propriety.
     The entire argument for the problem of evil, by both believers and nonbelievers, is definitionally dependent on the logical contrary of its intended conclusion, to give reality to its primary complaint: so-called evil. Its starting premise—usually not mentioned—contradicts its conclusion. It negates in its starting premise, the required goodness to give evil its meaning, the conclusion it tries to infer—that there cannot even be goodness in the first place. The problem of evil necessarily assumes a problem-free, transcendent, perfect, ultimate goodness. All for the sole purpose of denying that same Goodness. Goodness is required to give evil its reality. But goodness is the problem that evil was supposed to get rid of.
     Are instances of suicide proof that life is not good? Are instances of irrationality proof that there are no good reasons for anything? If the problem of evil is legitimate, does it apply to anyone who brings children into a world that contains evil and will bring about their suffering and death—not just God? Are instances of suffering in your own personal life an indication that you're evil to go on living because you yourself are causing your own suffering and evil by keeping yourself alive, completely apart from any suffering and evil you might cause to other people?
     The so-called problem of evil is a self-contradictory goodness-dependent mistake in logic, and consequently is no critique of a goodness it implicitly assumes in order to deny. It avoids what the word “evil” means, and ignores the standard of goodness implicitly assumed in order to recognize evil in the first place. It’s a fake problem that itself assumes the Goodness it wants to get rid of.

     METATHEORETIC ATHEISM
     The claim that no one can know X, asserts X’s unknowability itself as an item of knowledge about X. Claims that everything is merely the efficiently caused product of determining factors such as natural selection, evolution, survival and reproductive advantage, instincts, genetics, or environmental influences get arbitrary exemptions from scrutiny in order to proclaim them as universal truths.
It's even claimed—without any evidence or argument—that there are no possible objectively-true universal claims, even though that denial about universal claims is itself stated as objectively and universally true.
     But  what are the standards used to make those universal claims and denials about all universal claims in the first place? Those unaddressed lingering questions have resulted in two new arguments operating at the highest possible level of analytic generality, authority, and applicability.
     Both arguments involve theorizing about theory itself. They can be called metatheoretic, meta-scientific, meta-logical, or even meta-rational arguments. They are the Prior Moral Criterion Argument and its logically parallel generalization, the Prior Truth Criterion Argument. Because they are self-referring and metatheoretic universal arguments, they are straightforwardly deductive. They also assume a prior system of inquiry that is reliably accurate with regard to testing claims for truth in a commonly real world.
     They are based on general reason or rationality itself. This includes the entire system of common sense, principles of logic, as well as the ultimate or court-of-last-resort standards or criteria that govern our thinking, including our assessments and theorizing about obligation, both moral and ethical. Thinking must function with these ongoing cognitive values, obligations, principles, and basic concepts and definitions in order for us to be able to think at all.
     But the components of general reason preclude God—in advance. Because reason is universal, the preclusion of God is comprehensive. Consequently these two new arguments are logically and metatheoretically deductive, decisive, and final. That's a first in the history of human thinking, atheist or not. Those arguments are consequently fatal to all arguments prior to 2012 as well as all that ignore the point of Kai Nielsen’s remark about the necessity and consequences of a prior, higher-authority criterion.

     Consequently, to even discuss the question of God’s existence is to already accept God-precluding standards of an independent truth-indicating, morally-obligating rational system necessarily used to survive and flourish. Those standards are fatal to belief in God. In fact, belief in God already depends on those standards of general rationality to make sense of the concept of God itself. But reason not only does not need God for anything, as the prior standard for deciding what is true about anything, it precludes God prior to analysis.
     The Metatheoretic Arguments for Atheism are:

     1. The Prior Moral Criterion Argument for Atheism is that any moral argument for God’s goodness already must assume a logically prior, ultimate, comprehensive, God-precluding moral good to identify what any moral argument for God is trying to prove, prior to analyzing the issue. Therefore, there is no God and any moral argument for God is necessarily based on a prior atheistic moral good. Any moral argument for God already requires God-precluding atheistic assumptions and criteria about moral goodness, including the assumed moral good of rational thinking, and the moral obligation to reason as the only way to survive and flourish.

and

     2. The Prior Truth Criterion Argument for Atheism is that the prior standards of analysis already preclude God as even a relevant factor in deciding what is true about the issue of God’s existence. Therefore, there is no God and any argument for God is based on atheism.

        METATHEORETIC BELIEF IN GOD
     Those new deductive arguments for atheism are successful as far as they go operationally, legitimizing atheism as a given starting point in terms of immediate analysis in the dark world. But that process of how they operate and govern all thought is itself indistinguishable from the behavior of a God as Logos, as General Rationality itself. Using those arguments, atheism has unwittingly proved the existence of God with metatheoretic finality. It has ignored what reason itself already assumes and what it implies, in how it necessarily operates as an ultimate mind. Rational atheism necessarily gives qualities of God to reason itself, without any logically prior justification, verification, or falsification of those qualities. Rational neutrality itself assumes an implicit background belief in God, based on what must be assumed in order to theorize for or against God, and arguing for or against these arguments necessarily assumes them.
The Metatheoretic Arguments for Belief in God are:

     1. The Prior Ultimate Moral Person Criterion Argument for Belief in God is that any moral argument for God’s goodness already must assume a logically prior, ultimate, comprehensive, God-authority moral good to identify what any moral argument for God is trying to prove, prior to analyzing the issue. Therefore, there is necessarily a morally good God and any moral argument for God is necessarily based on a prior metatheoretic standard for what is moral good. Any moral argument for God already requires God-assuming principles and criteria for what is moral goodness and moral good, including the assumed moral good of rational thinking, and the moral obligation to reason as the only way to survive and flourish.

and

     2. The Prior Truth-Deciding Person Criterion Argument for Belief in God is that the prior standards of analysis are already assumed to be God as a necessary factor in deciding what is true about the issue of God’s existence as well as personhood and everything else. Therefore, God is necessarily assumed in our thinking apparatus and any argument against God is based on a suppressed belief in God in the process.
     Because reason has a belief-deciding authority that is ultimate, universal, and comprehensive, it is indistinguishable from a God of mind in how we must view it, use it, refer to it, appeal to it, and act on its authority in order to think, survive and flourish. Truth is what fits into an already-existing equivalence-class system of truth-testing principles, criteria, and so on, which when taken together as a comprehensive abstract system, is indistinguishable from God. Asking how I know this is assuming it by requesting Reason for it.

     To argue against these principles is to reconstruct that same system all over again, as ultimate, comprehensive, and decisive about all possible things that can be thought about, including God, mind, personhood, and that system itself. It simply cannot be argued against, questioned, or even thought about without assuming it in those processes.
     Impersonal things don't obligate. Non-personal entities and concepts cannot have any authority for obligating persons to think according to any rules or principles. That’s why reason necessarily functions as a person, because reason is the only possible standard for deciding what a person is in the first place. By directing all thinking, reason also assumes an ultimate perfect goodness as well, not just because it is itself the ideal of how to think, but also because it necessarily assumes an equally comprehensive and ultimate Good which all thinking must constantly approximate. Reason’s necessarily-assumed independent neutrality, immunity to influences, and exemption from verification and falsification is a fatal problem for atheism, and reveals Reason’s transcendental status as the God Of Thought, existing above everything, affected by nothing. Both logically and existentially, there is simply nowhere else to go without repeating the same appeal.
     Want to argue against it? Using what? Reason? You're going to use and appeal to reason to somehow demonstrate that Reason is not the God of Mind? This is the key to the evasiveness and direct self-contradictions of both the scientific establishment and academia about the God issue, both of which avoid discussing or even mentioning metatheoretic criteria and reflexive analysis of universal claims in their respective areas of research.
     It is your own mind that decides what's real in all senses, but because we are prone to be mistaken due to our limited abilities and tendency to knowingly and deliberately contradict ourselves, our goals and our values, we can decide what’s real only by basing such decisions on the ultimate criteria embodied in the system we call Reason. The Logos or General Reason is instantiated in us as the image of God in the mind, in the exact same way that an operating system is imaged onto an electronic storage device such as a computer hard drive.
     So the issue of the existence of God is really about personhood in relation to this ultimate notion of sentient reason as necessarily the image of God. In the logical beginning is the Logos, deciding all issues. So what is necessarily used to get to either belief in God or atheism, turns out necessarily itself to be God already. Reason comprehensively exemplifies a God’s-eye view of the total reality. Reject that claim, and you’re doing the exact same thing that the claim asserts and describes.
     Reason is necessarily, in all the core essentials, indistinguishable from the classical notion of God, precisely because Reason decides all issues about personhood as well as everything else.

     Furthermore, God is manifested in our awareness of moral obligation, but that’s only because 1) moral obligation is already built into general reason’s governing and influencing our beliefs and our behavior, which specifies obligations logically prior to acting on our assessments of how to think and live. Reason is necessarily the Logos, 2) indistinguishable from an obligation-imposing subject outside of and separate from ourselves, yet 3) comprehensively functioning within us, in spite of our limitations due to finite resources for verifiable and falsifiable certainty, and that strange tendency to deliberately contradict our own assumptions, standards, and values.
4)  “The philosopher knows that reason is the sovereign of the world.” (Anthony Kenny). As George Hamilton Smith said, Reason is the sovereign critic of every sphere of knowledge. The belief-deciding authority of Reason is already God-level. Reason is 5) all-knowing as the truth-evaluating instrument of all possible knowledge, 6) ultimately authoritative and sovereign as the final court of appeal, 7) omnipresent as the universally decisive inferential factor throughout space and 8) timelessly eternal across all moments of time. And it is 9) transcendent in being neutral and 10) immutable or unchangeable in being, immune to all influences. General rationality operates at the highest conceivable level of governing analytic authority over all issues concerning all domains of predication including all the same issues about itself.
     General rationality assumptions metatheoretically dictate the  standards for defining everything in the first place, including minds, persons, standards, reason, logic, language, meaning, purpose, goodness, evil, God, and general rationality itself. We must refer to these standards because we are limited and have personal histories of deliberate self-contradiction in relation to our own goals, purposes, values, and ideals. We just don’t perfectly actualize that ideal system of standards in our lives, and often even forget them or forget to apply them, or misapply them, even though we are somehow mysteriously called back to them, in order to recognize our defections from those standards. Without the logically necessary, God-like, and morally-obligating authority of reason, neither God's existence nor anything else can be concluded.

So essential aspects of God's being must be assumed in whatever we use to decide whether or not God exists. And that is the central issue of both atheism and belief in God in relation to the necessity, universality, adequacy, efficacy, and ultimacy of reason.
     Consequently, this system of general reason or rationality—a system of necessary and logically basic assumptions—is as ultimate and mind-like or person-like as any personal ultimate God is conceivable of being. There is nothing that those guiding assumptions do not already cover in our thinking about ourselves and the world. They are the image in us of a God-like mind, however imperfectly they are instantiated in us individually in our lives.
     And my actions in relation to that ideal are whatever they are only when judged by that same rational standard. All criticism and all thinking assumes ideal rationality. As Sam Harris has said, certain logical relations are etched into the very structure of the world. They are etched into us as well.
     Any contemplation of these ultimate assumptions of mind such as reason, formal logic, the rule-set of an ordered context of reality, a hierarchy of values, and the obligation to proceed according to a system of rules of thinking results in an endless stream of new knowledge when applied to our ongoing experience of the world. The rules of reason are a precondition, not simply of experience but of communication and therefore of society. Consequently, these ultimate decisive rules and ideals of thought actually convey knowledge and even wisdom by merely thinking about our world of objects, our experience, our history, our belief systems, and our lives in relation to those rules and ideals of general reason.
     And the fact that we must assume and refer to those standards of rationality implies an equally ultimate purpose. Use the standards for what? Why use them in the first place? And an ultimate purpose necessarily depends on a hierarchical set of ultimate values. This system of assumptions is a unified instrument of thinking, which necessarily obligates, defines, and influences the mind as the ultimate operating system for thinking about anything.

Consequently, all thinking necessarily both assumes and references an already idling engine, an unchanging, and enduring supervisory system of thinking made up of prescriptive evaluative standards of thinking assumed simultaneously just to be able to live or even get out of bed in the morning. Reason doesn’t actually do anything. Yet it makes all the difference in the world every day of our lives. It’s absolutely inert. But it decides everything and makes inquiry itself possible.
Arguing against this merely re-invokes it. And the rationally necessary is necessarily the experientially real, because any argument denying that is self-contradictory in trying to rationally necessitate its own truth about the experientially real. Reason is the only thing that can decide these matters. The knowledge of everything about God, including arguments in support of that belief that God exists, is decided completely and only by the power and authority of reason. If one recognizes the necessary ultimacy and universality of reason, the Logos of Reason logically follows. So the essential properties of our own system and standards of thinking are a system of mind, an equivalence-class system that is indistinguishable from the essential defining properties of a classically-construed concept of God. "In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God." --The Gospel of John

 "Reason deserves to be called a prophet, because by showing us the consequences of our actions in advance, it predicts the future. That’s why reason is an excellent power of restraint when we are possessed by some base passion, some fit of anger, some covetous desire, that will lead us to do things we will regret." --Schopenhauer


     LINGERING QUESTIONS
     How does a universal claim that refers to itself —a claim that includes itself in what it’s talking about—affect its own truth? Why are self-referring universal claims, thought-governing criteria, theory choice, and basic assumption preferencing either ignored or given an exemption from scrutiny? Why do we have to abstract in the first place?
     EVIL: How do you define evil to begin with, without assuming an ultimate perfect goodness that the problem of evil is supposed to eliminate?

     REASON AND LOGIC: Is the claim—that the laws of logic are not universally valid laws of reality—itself universally valid about reality? Does the claim—that there's no predefined rationality—itself depend on predefined rationality to even make sense? Is reason’s neutrality and immunity to influences, verification, and falsification itself assumed to be transcendent, immortal, and eternal? Is the question—Why  should rational principles used to discover truths in math, logic, physics, history, psychology, theology, and art all be the same?--itself a request for cross-disciplinary rational principles?
     REALITY, OBJECTIVITY, AND NEUTRALITY: Is the claim—that reality is a useless notion—itself a useless notion about reality? If all perception is theory-laden, is that claim about all perception itself theory-laden? Is the claim—that rationality is not objective because no one approaches life in an objective way without bias—itself an objectively rational, universal claim without bias? Is the claim—that observations and beliefs are merely perspectival constructs—itself merely a perspectival construct?  Does the claim—that there's no point of view from which one can define knowledge itself without begging the question in favor of one's own view—itself question-begging in favor of the view of the person making that claim? Is the denial—that there cannot be any objective truth or objectivity itself in relation to adjudicating truth-claims including one’s own—is that denial itself objective? If all perception is theory-laden, is that claim—that all perception is theory-laden—itself theory-laden? Is the claim—that all observations, beliefs, and narratives are theory laden—itself theory-laden? Is the claim—that there's no neutral standpoint from which to approach the world—itself neutral?  If there's no Archimedean point outside science from which to question science, how could that fact itself be known without assuming that same outside vantage point?

     KNOWLEDGE: Is the claim that X is unknowable itself an item of knowledge about X? By what standard? Is the claim, that knowledge is impossible, itself an item of knowledge? Is the claim that there are no objective, invariant, universal truths itself an objective, invariant, and universal truth?
     RELATIVISM, SUBJECTIVISM: Is the claim—that what is real for one linguistic group may be unreal for another—itself real across linguistic groups? Is the claim—that there's no objective truth, no God’s-eye view of things—itself a God’s-eye objective truth? Is relativism itself true relative to the beliefs and evaluations of an individual or group that accepts it? Why does it universally quantify its terms and objects? Is relativism itself merely made true for those who accept it by merely accepting it? Is relativism itself the objective truth that there are no objective truths? Is relativism itself merely an expression of preference or habit? How can relativism be advocated or recommended to others as if it is itself an objective trans-personal universal truth? Is the claim—that truth is relative to a linguistic community—itself relative to a linguistic community? If what is true for one person is false for another, why is that claim itself stated to other people in the first place as a universal claim about the objective status of all truth and knowing for all individuals? If all truth, morals, and ethics, really are relative, why is the question about the relativity of relativism itself dismissed as ridiculous?
   Do relativists and subjectivists themselves assume special access to some privileged realm of timeless, transcendent, self-validating truth in order to claim that everyone’s beliefs are merely person-relative and subjective? It’s often heard that because values are relative, one ought not impose one's values on others. Part of this self-referential inconsistency can be seen merely from a close examination of the term “impose”.

     If values are person-relative, and one of someone’s values is the value of telling others how they ought to live, then on what basis can a relativist criticize, reject, or even question the values that person happens to hold? If values are relative, how could it be “wrong” to impose values, if the value of not imposing values is itself relative? If values are person-relative, then how can anyone be faulted for living in accordance with their own value of imposing values on others? Do relativists want the assumed benefits, such as toleration, from believing that values are relative, while also assuming that their own values are not relative in being able to condemn others for imposing their values on others? If relativists assert their own value of condemning others for imposing values on others, does that allow others to value their own value-impositions as the right thing for them to do? Do relativists get to exempt their own views from being relativized, so that it’s wrong to impose values only from within their own value scheme, and that it has nothing to do with anyone else? Can relativists get others’ attention only by appealing to non-relative values that somehow obligate others, which contradicts their own relativism? Are relativism and subjectivism equally capable of insulating sociopathic behavior from criticism? Why are relativism and subjectivism stated as universal absolutes if their whole point is the denial of universal absolutes? How do relativism and subjectivism affect their own truth? Is the claim that there's no way to know that the basic principles of rational thinking are not merely subjectively legitimate attitudes,itself a merely subjectively legitimate attitude? If cultural relativism and social constructivism undermine all accepted standards of truth and objectivity, is that claim itself just irrational mystery mongering? Is relativism itself merely whatever the relativist makes of it under a currently favored description?
      DETERMINISM: Is the claim that all our beliefs are merely the products of determining influences itself merely a product of those influences?

     How could you decide whether beliefs are determined if that decision process itself is also the mere product of those influences? When do you get to add the label “true” to “merely produced by determining influences,” especially
with regard to determinism itself? If truth is merely the cognitive product of the comprehensively explaining and determining factors that determinism specifies, how can any theory be claimed to be true, including determinism itself?
Is the claim—that causes other than our own sovereign judgment can and do decide our beliefs, nullifying any possible degree of objectivity or even agency—itself merely the product of those determining causes? How can a theory be true, if that theory says that all theories themselves, and beliefs in them, are merely the products of whatever universally determining causes that theory specifies? Is belief in the theory of determinism itself merely the consequence of the theory’s specified determining causes, such as our heredity, upbringing, and environment? Is the truth of determinism itself merely the non-cognitive causal eventuation of the wider context of causal conditions and relations that caused the theory of determinism to arise in the brain? When do you get to add the label “true” to “determined by x, y, z, . . .” with regard to determinism itself or the belief in it?
     How does determinism affect the belief that determinism is true or theory choice in general? Why is determinism brought up about everything except itself and the belief in it? If mental processes are totally determined, then are people determined either to accept or reject that determinism itself? If the only reason for believing determinism is that people are already causally determined to believe it or not believe it, then why think that reflecting or deliberating about the truth of determinism or anything else is meaningful or coherent? If your own thought life is merely the byproduct of your material make-up and external stimulation, then why think the decision to believe that determinism is true—is itself rational and true? And if all theories and beliefs are merely the products of those causes, then how do they get exempted from scrutiny themselves, yet still be claimed to be true about all of our beliefs? How is believing determinism is true any different from having a toothache?

   How can anything you believe be true, if the bodily states supporting our ability to believe things have evolved only under survival pressure? Is the choice to believe in determinism itself determined? Is the claim, that all views are determined by non-rational factors and consequently are not to be trusted, itself untrustworthy on its own terms?
     How does the skeptic know that doubts must be refuted in order to know something? Can the skeptic justify their own reasons for doubting anything? Must skeptical doubts themselves be known with certainty? Why must Humean skeptics use rational arguments to prove reason’s inability to produce truth? Because if the proof is successful, then how can reason prove anything, including that proof itself, if there would then be no reason to accept the skeptical arguments themselves? If you stop trusting reason because of skeptical arguments, then what reason was there for accepting the skeptical arguments themselves to begin with? How can skeptical arguments be accepted for distrusting reason if any worldview including skepticism itself must assume reason in formulating and arguing its own position?
     EMPIRICISM: Does empiricism itself have any empirical evidence or sense experience that justifies believing it? If a knowledge claim must in some way be related to what is sense-perceptible, what send-perceptible object is that statement itself related to?
     EXISTENTIALISM: Is existentialism itself unexplainable and absurd? 
     IDEALISM: Is idealism itself a mere mental construct about alleged objects of external perception?
     LOGICAL POSITIVISM: Is logical positivism itself meaning-less because it can't be logically analyzed into elementary tautologies or be empirically verified or falsified? If nothing is allowed to count against logical empiricism/ positivism’s claims, then is logical empiricism/positivism itself asserting anything that can be either true or false?

     NATURALIZED EPISTEMOLOGY OR HOLISM: Is Quine's holistic naturalized epistemology itself even a theory, when the revisability principle that maintains the hierarchical network of beliefs cannot itself survive its own revision as just another belief in the network? Is Willard Quine’s claim, that all observations are theory-laden and all theories are underdetermined by observational evidence, itself theory-laden and underdetermined by observational evidence? If according to Quine’s holism, all generalizations are revisable in principle, is that universal claim itself revisable? When in the entire history of human thought or science has that revisability claim itself ever actually been revised? Has anyone even tried to revise it? Has that revisability doctrine ever even been seriously questioned?
     ANTI-FOUNDATIONALISM: Does anti-foundationalism treat its own assumptions as having all the characteristics of the grounding assumptions claimed by foundationalism to be irreducibly basic?
     NOMINALISM: Does nominalism use its own assumptions and basic concepts as having all the characteristics of the universal abstract objects it denies?
     MARXISM: Is Marxism itself merely an economically determined set of brain events, the product of economic class warfare, the passive reflection of natural processes and economic conditions, an ideology that is itself relative to a passing economic structure? If, as Marx held, the material conditions of life determine consciousness, then how could anyone ever detect any qualification of the determining influences of economic conditions that is not itself already tainted by those same influences? If theory is always merely an expression of class interests, is Marxist theory itself merely an expression of class interests? If humanity is merely the totality of social relations, is Marxism itself merely the product of social relations? If we are all merely the products of society, then isn’t society already self-transforming with or without any efforts to transform it? If our moral ideas and attitudes are determined by the kind of society we live in, then are Marx’s moral ideas and attitudes merely the result of the kind of society that Marx lived in? And how do you even critically analyze those ideas if that criticism itself would also be merely the product of those same societal causes and nothing more than that?

     If diagnosing our social problems itself depends on the same things that caused those problems, how can there be any possible resolution? And how can any proposed solution even make sense if it too is merely the product of the specified determining causes? And assuming Marxism, how could one possibly decide between competing views of what ought to be done to solve our problems—or your problems? How can there be any radical change in society or in your life that is not already determined by socially external conditions outside of human agency as specified by Marxist theory?
     If all truth claims, scientific paradigms, subject positions, and ideas about Marxist theoretic practice are themselves relative to or constructed in some specific localized or culture-specific discourse, then how can any Marxist view prescribe either the conditions for its own scientific or theoretically warranted status or judge the ways that other discourses are guilty of ideological misrecognition?
     PRAGMATISM AND UTILITARIANISM: How do you know what is pragmatic? To say it’s practical or useful just pushes the problem to what is practical or useful. Is utilitarianism itself merely useful for being happy and not even a theory?
     CONSTRUCTIVISM, CONSENSUS, AND CONVENTIONALISM: Is social constructivism itself merely a social construct? If all knowledge is socially constructed, is that claim itself socially constructed? Does peer agreement theory arbitrarily exempt itself from its own restrictions? Is the claim—that knowledge is merely a construct of one's social, linguistic structures— itself merely a construct of the claimant’s social, linguistic structures?
     BEHAVIORISM: Is behaviorism itself merely an observable, quantifiable product of the environmental conditioning it says determines everything about us?

    PSYCHOLOGISM, FREUDIANISM: Is psychologism itself merely the product of psychological factors? Is the reduction of logically prior ideas, to mere feelings of certainty and convictions of subjective evidence motivated by the desire for security and definiteness, itself merely a feeling of certainty about subjective evidence motivated by the desire for security and definiteness? Is psychologism itself merely the product of psychological causes in the mind of the theorist that advocates or argues for psychologism? Was the concept of God that Freud rejected, along with his atheism, determined by Freud’s relationship with his father? Was Freud’s claim, that his views applied to all theorizing, contradicted by his own self-exemption?
     SKEPTICISM: How can you doubt your own thinking ability without relying on your thinking ability to argue for doubting it? Is skepticism itself and its challenges and requirements as uncertain and unknowable as all the other items of possible knowledge it denies? Is the skeptic’s claim that all things are inapprehensible itself inapprehensible? Is skepticism’s claim,that no one has any knowledge, itself an item of knowledge? Is skepticism’s claim, that there’s nothing that can be known, itself an assertion of knowledge? Does skepticism’s claim—that the only thing anyone can know is that they can’t know anything—itself assume knowledge of all the things assumed to be unknowable? And would that require other exempted items of knowledge to explain that claim of universal unknowability? Does anyone claiming to know skeptical claims assume that they know their own existence, that they know the meaning of that claim, that they know the claim is true, and many other arbitrarily exempted items of knowledge? Are denials of knowledge know the meaning of that claim, that they know the claim is true, and many other arbitrarily exempted items of knowledge? Are denials of knowledge arbitrarily-exempted items of knowledge themselves? Do skeptical claims assume that one knows the requirements for whether or not something is doubtable, that one’s doubting is justified, that one exists as a doubter, that doubts are meaningful, can be expressed, justified or not, and that one can know that truths are doubtful? Are skeptical questions themselves requests for reasons which assume principles of inquiry, logic, the value of inquiry, and an obligation to have reasons for claims, beliefs, and even denials?

Why do metatheoretic standards of human thinking get exempted from scrutiny? Why is logic never taught to children even though it's no more complicated than basic arithmetic? The pervasive dismissiveness and evasions of academia, the scientific establishment, and the general culture won't make this problem go away.
     But is skepticism itself and its challenges and requirements as uncertain and unknowable as all the other items of possible knowledge that skepticism questions or denies? Is the deniability of all possible truth itself a truth? Is that skeptical claim—that there is no truth—itself a true claim? Is skepticism itself a set of knowledge claims about the possibility of knowing that are themselves exempted from questioning? Do Hume’s claims about habits and mere constant conjunction relativize themselves? Is Hume’s habit theory of belief an exception to its own universality? Does skepticism take shelter under the protection of reason by using rational arguments to prove the mistaken reasonings alleged in all other views? If you no longer trust reason, what reason is there to believe skeptical arguments for distrusting reason? Does the claim that knowledge is impossible imply that knowledge of the possibility of error is itself impossible? Is the skeptical assumption, that the mere possibility of error implies the actuality of error—itself an arbitrarily self-exempted assumption? Are skeptical assumptions about certainty themselves certain? If we're always being tricked by some being who is causing us to have sensory experiences of an external-to-mind reality when no such reality exists, then what enables us to know that fact itself or even be able to distinguish between what's real and what's not real in the first place or even analyze it? Do skeptical claims themselves—claims about relations between objects of thought and if-then conditional implication, claims that skeptical arguments can decide what is real or true and what is not—have the same problems they allege about all other claims? How can the skeptic know that there are questions or problems or distinctions between known and unknown? What is the skeptic’s standard for what can be questioned, without exempting skepticism’s assumptions about its own criteria? How can a skeptic know a criterion for what does or does not count as knowledge?

Are the assumptions behind skeptical questions arbitrarily exempted from those questions themselves? How does the skeptic know that there is a burden of proof, that in order to know anything one must have a method, criteria, and reasons for knowledge claims? Why does skepticism avoid self-reference issues in its own universal claims and assumptions about the requirements of knowledge? Are skeptical claims about human fallibility and past deceptions themselves items of knowledge? How does a skeptic know that the possibility of one's current beliefs being mistaken is a reason to doubt them? 
     MATERIALISM, PHYSICALISM: If physical matter is the only reality, how can materialism itself be true, in addition to being merely a physical object or merely a function of physical objects?How can physicalism or materialism even define reflection, abstraction, or mental representation without assuming that they transcend matter and the physical? Does materialism use mentalistic concepts in constantly referring to convictions, opinions, knowledge, understanding, memory, intelligence, ideas, and intuitions in denying the legitimacy of mentalistic concepts? Does the eliminative materialist get a pass on its loose talk when it makes claims about science? If, according to materialism, science gives us the only accurate picture of reality, and physical matter is the only reality, how were those materialist claims themselves derived from empirical data? Is eliminative materialism itself, by its own claims, merely a set of physical objects in the brain, objects that can be empirically verified? If material objects themselves have already made that decision for us—before we even become conscious of them to analyze them—then how do we decide between conflicting evidence assessments? What physical or material objects demonstrate that there is such a thing as a neutral vantage point from which to evaluate anything? Is the theory of materialism merely a set of belief-determining molecules?
     INTERNALISM: If the only factors relevant to justification are internal factors, is that claim itself a trans-internal external claim? How can one know that internal factors, even though necessary, are a sufficient condition for justification? Is the claim—that we have no awareness of any external justifying factors is itself a supervisory external claim about external factors? Is Descartes’ universal claim about all sensation and cognition—that it’s not contradictory to deny the external world—itself a claim about an external world? What does “it” and “there is” refer to in the claims that “it” is not contradictory and that “there is” no contradiction, as well as his universal claims about reality in general? If what is real or true is merely an illusion, is the illusion itself real and true? How could that ever be detected?
     SIMULATIONISM: How can everything be a simulation, if that knowledge of the simulation is itself is already assumed to be part of that same simulation? Is the simulation itself real? How do simulation claims get exempted from scrutiny?

     BELIEF IN JESUS
     From biblical writings iIn attributed historical order: Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6) Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame. (Psalms 25:1) My soul waits only on God. My salvation comes from him. (Psalms 62:1) Like sheep, all of us have strayed away; each of us has turned to our own way; and the Master has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6) John the Apostle: To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12) God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. (John 3:36) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44) Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. (John 3:36)


 “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life and will not be condemned; they have crossed over from death to life.” —Jesus (John 5:24) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” —Jesus (John 6:44) Those who believe are children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:7) The writings foresaw that God would justify the nations by means of belief. So those who have belief are blessed along with Abraham, the man of belief. (Galatians 3:8-9) All who rely on human effort are under a curse. (Galatians 3:10) No one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by belief.” (Galatians 3:11) Christ redeemed us from the curse of human effort by becoming a curse for us. (Galatians 3:13) (John 20:31) There is salvation in no one else, because there is no other name given among people under heaven by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31) For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1st Thessalonians 5:9)God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. (2nd Thessalonians 2:13) He has saved us and called us to a holy life, not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13) You have been saved by grace, through belief. It's the gift of God---not because of what you yourself do, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8) No one is justified by the works of the law, but through belief in Jesus Christ, and we have come to believe in Jesus Christ so that we are justified by belief in Christ and not by the works of the Law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. (Galatians 2:16)  I don’t put aside the grace of God, because if righteousness could be gained through human effort, then Christ died for nothing. (Galatians 2:21) Those who believe are children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:7) The writings foresaw that God would justify the nations by means of belief. So those who have belief are blessed along with Abraham, the man of belief. (Galatians 3:8-9)

All who rely on human effort are under a curse. (Galatians 3:10) No one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11) Christ redeemed us from the curse of human effort by becoming a curse for us. (Galatians 3:13) If a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through belief in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. (Galatians 3:21-22) You are all children of God through belief in Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:26) Learn from us the meaning of the saying, Don't go beyond what is written. (1st Corinthians 4:6) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (1 Corinthians 5:21) We don't write you anything you can't read or understand for yourselves. (2 Corinthians 1:13) If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The old has passed away. Look, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:21) The time of God's favor is now. The day of salvation is now. (2 Corinthians 6:2) I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16) This righteousness from God comes through belief in Jesus Christ. Everyone has sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came through Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:23-24)  A person is justified by belief apart from human effort. (Romans 3:28) To the person who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, their belief is credited as righteousness. (Romans 4:5) The promise comes through belief, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all. (Romans 4:16) God recommends his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Death came to all because all sinned. (Romans 5:12) Sin will no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14) Sin's income is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) Christ is the end of human effort to be righteous in front of God, so that there can be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9) You believe and are justified with your heart, and with your mouth you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:10) Everyone who calls on the name of the Master will be saved. (Romans 10:13) If by grace, then it's no longer by works. If it were, grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6) I have suffered the loss of all things and regard them as trash in order to gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through belief in Christ, the righteous from God that is based on belief. (Philippians 3:9) He saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy, through the cleansing and regenerating by the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24) Christ has suffered for sins once, the just has suffered for the unjust, so that he might bring us to God. (1st Peter 3:18) We have not followed cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and arrival of the ruler Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses to His revealed essence. (2 Peter 1:16) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (1 Peter 3;9) He has saved us and called us to a holy life, not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. (2 Timothy 3:15) Today, If you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts. (Hebrews 3:15) We do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. (Hebrews 10:39) God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. (1 John 5:1) Whoever has the Son has life; and whoever does not have the Son does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you will know that you have eternal life. (1st John 5:12-13) 


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Contra potestates huius mundi tenebris,
Ad gloriam Dei.

Roger Wasson
Death Valley, California
August 31, 2022 Anno Domini

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¹Made in the first edition of his ingenius book, Ethics Without God,  Pemberton Press, 1971, page 22, and 2nd edition, Prometheus Books, 1990, page 31.
²The First Frontier essay is still too large to put here but is the fear of questions about neutrality, self-reference and metatheoretic criteria. For all her philosophical faults, Ayn Rand was one of the few people who repeatedly throughout her life asked the ultimate question that is still forbidden in both science and academia: "By what standard?"
³By reflexive I mean self-referring, self-inclusive universal claims, claims that refer to themselves or include themselves in what they say or assert or claim universally about an entire subject area, class, set, or domain. To state in English that "No one can state anything in English" is to make a statement that is self-referringly inconsistent, self-contradictory, self-stultifying, self-referentially contradictory or that contains or embodies a self-destroying error in its syntax or object reference due to its including itself in what's it's talking about.
I have no interest in academic philosophy and do not pretend to be doing philosophy. I use the term only where I consider it to be necessary for clarity in various historical or quasi-political remarks I may make about the term as it is used generally in culture. Inside golf-drunk-run, loan-sharking academia or not, philosophy is little more than perpetual "Introduction to . . ." and among students, even grad students, almost to a person, the philosophy department atmospheres contain mostly gossip about arguments and biblographic gossip about various writers' works. Collectivist education has now reduced itself generally to the level of hedge-fund degree mills.
Inadvertently discovered in 2012 by leaving off the word "moral" while taking notes on the 1st edition of Ethics Without God, referenced above.
Apart from atheism itself, I agree with much of what atheist authors have said from Bertrand Russell to the present, including, for example, Antony Flew's presumption argument, John Wisdom's Parable of the Invisible Gardner, and mid-20th-century scientific realism of atheistic rationalists to the present, although Flew's famous Stratonitianism is just flat-out metatheoretically and self-referentially contradictory and arbitrarily self-exempting.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Prophetic Cognition

Grasping the assumptions of our own thinking gives us foreknowledge of whether those assumptions must be modified to approximate ideal rationality. Otherwise, we would never reflect on them in the first place.

—Christopher Norris, Quantum Theory and the Flight from Realism (redacted)

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Logical Stupidity of Naturalism

 According to naturalism, which is a universal theory, the truth of the naturalist account itself, like every other item of knowledge, is merely one more adjustment to the environment or even epiphenomenal shedding. Therefore, the naturalist account has no more importance than any other adjustment except for some possible survival value it might have.

When do we get to add the label "true" on top of naturalism's explaining and determining factors with regard to naturalism itself? What's the criteria?

And naturalists cannot criticize belief in God, when---again---according to naturalism itself, that belief in God too is legitimately explained only by the factors specified by naturalism as all-determining: adjustment to the environment for the sake of survival, reproductive advantage, and so on.

There's simply no way for naturalism itself to break out of its own explaining and determining factors to even be considered to be true in addition to being--itself--merely the product of those factors. There's no remainder because that's what any universal reduction to determining factors gets rid of.


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

How Collectivism Guarantees Its Own Destruction

 The systemic stupidity of collectivism is that it does not--and never will because of the disincentives of its fixed relationship structures over time--realize the dangers that it creates right in front of everyone ongoing.

Notice the inherent danger and vulnerability of China and North Korea in that they have a Communist Party member on board each ship so they can second-guess any military action without regard to any military factors, priorities, or dangers. They are designed to go into total confusion and defeat, by the natural consequences of organization.

Coordination can and does occur dynamically without a formal relationship structure. Organization is the blinding of a group of people to changing circumstances, making a hierarchy into a permanent static thing which it cannot really be as soon as the clock starts ticking on the organizational relationships day in day out.


Saturday, December 25, 2021

Declaration of Individual Independence

When in the course of my life it becomes necessary to dissolve the connections I have with particular groups, organizations and individuals, and to assume among the powers of the world a separate and sovereign position, respect for the opinions of others motivates me to explain why I am making this declaration.

No truths are self-evident, but must have their usefulness and veracity demonstrated. I am free from tyranny, even though I frequently accept the limitations and restraints implied and exerted by other individuals.

I have no rights. And the universe owes me nothing.

I alone choose my obligations and purposes, whether through wisdom or folly, for gain or loss. I can run my own life and secure for myself those opportunities that will best enable me to live in desired harmony with others.

Whenever any entity becomes oppressive or destructive of these ends, I may ignore, counter, or abolish it, and live however I want to achieve my own personal satisfactions.

I do not consider it wise to change long-established relationships for light and transient reasons, but only after due consideration of alternatives and the various interests involved. But I resolve all such issues for myself. Experience shows that I often put up with obstacles to which I have become accustomed rather than correct myself and abolish them. But when a series of hindrances evinces a pronounced tendency to subject me to a life of forced behavior or belief, I will throw off such hindrances and accept sole responsibility for my own happiness and security.

I accept the consequences entailed by this declaration, including the challenge of self-examination, change, and countering possible resistance from those who may oppose me.

But the rewards of liberation are great, being the very fulfillment of my own nature, the improvement of my life and therefore the enhancement of my happiness as a whole. I accept these responsibilities independently, of my own resolve, and for my own enduring advantage.

I am a free, rational individual coexisting with other similar individuals. Consequently, various relationships, agreements, assumptions, models, and systems of belief are necessary for my harmonious growth among them. Yet these must be my own choice. If I decide to assist or cooperate with others for specific purposes and times, or choose to stand apart from all others in perpetuity, I am free to do so and I alone will make such choices.

My voluntary actions in pursuit of my own purposes in accordance with this declaration shall not be intended to in any way interfere with the beliefs, actions, or behaviors of those who remain separate from me. Furthermore, this declaration applies only to me, because I alone freely choose to accept it.

I have no allegiance to anything I have not chosen for myself. As a free, independent and sovereign individual I have full power to wage war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and anything else in the pursuit of my own self-chosen goals.

Therefore, I declare that I am a free and independent sovereign.


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Except Ye Repent of Irrationality . . .

Reason is a crypto-theistic Mind-God. And there's no argument for it or against it that does not commit the core fallacy of assuming it in order to question it or argue for it. As the slogan of this blog says, the belief-deciding authority of Reason is already God-level. And any argument against that claim necessarily assumes it.

As atheist Brand Blanshard said on the first page of his 2-volume The Nature of Thought, truth is that which fits into an already necessarily-assumed system of cognition that tests for it. But only a mind processes truth claims. The problem is that if reason is inert and unaffectable by circumstance or change of environment (much like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey), then it transcends the empirical world and is indistinguishable from the underlying Logos of the universe, common to the Greeks and the New Testament usage of the term. As the Gospel of John says, "In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos *was* God."


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

That Mania for Counting Noses

 "The value of a thing sometimes does not lie in that which one attains by it, but in what one pays for it---what it costs us. I shall give an example. Liberal institutions cease to be liberal as soon as they are attained: later on, there are no worse and no more thorough injurers of freedom than liberal institutions. Their effects are known well enough: they undermine the will to power; they level mountain and valley, and call that morality; they make people small, cowardly, and hedonistic---every time it is the herd animal that triumphs with them. Liberalism: in other words, herd-animalization.

These same institutions produce quite different effects while they are still being fought for; then they really promote freedom in a powerful way. On closer inspection, it is war that produces these effects, the war for liberal institutions, which, as a war, permits illiberal instincts to continue. And war educates for freedom. For what is freedom? That one has the will to assume responsbility for oneself. That one maintains the distance which separates us. That one becomes more indifferent to difficulties, hardships, privation, even to life itself. That one is prepared to sacrifice human beings for one's cause, not excluding oneself. Freedom means that the manly instincts which enjoy war and victory dominate over other instincts, for example, over those of "pleasure." The human being who has become free---and how much more the spirit who has become free---spits on the contemptible type of well-being dreamed of by shopkeepers, Christians, cows, females, the English, and other democrats. The free individual is a warrior.

How is freedom measured in individuals and peoples? According to the resistance which must be overcome, according to the exertion required, to remain on top. The highest type of free individuals should be sought where the highest resistance is constantly overcome: five steps from tyranny, close to the threshold of the danger of servitude. This is true psychologically if by "tyrants" are meant inexorable and fearful instincts that provoke the maximum of authority and discipline against themselves; most beautiful type: Julius Caesar. This is true politically too; one need only go through history. The peoples who had some value, attained some value, never attained it under liberal institutions: it was great danger that made something of them that merits respect. Danger alone acquaints us with our own resources, our virtues, our armor and weapons, our spirit, and forces us to be strong. First principle: one must need to be strong---otherwise one will never become strong.

Those large hothouses for the strong---for the strongest kind of human being that has so far been known---the aristocratic commonwealths of the type of Rome or Venice, understood freedom exactly in the sense in which I understand it: as something one has or does not have, something one wants, something one conquers."

---Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, #38 "My conception of freedom."


Sunday, April 11, 2021

Moreland & Craig on Brainfishing for the Mental

 "One might think that the day will come in which scientists have so precisely correlated mental and brain states that a scientist could, indeed, know better than I what is going on in my mental life by simply reading my brain states. But in order to develop a detailed chart correlating specific mental and physical states,  you must ask your experimental subjects what is going on inside them as he reads the brain monitor. So any such correlation will be epistemically dependent on and weaker than a subject's own introspective knowledge of their conscious states because the chart depends on the accuracy of experimental subjects' reports of their own consciousness."

--J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, Revised edition, IVP Academic, 2017, page 214.

 

Monday, March 22, 2021

The Stones Cry Out


    Where the indistinguishable-from-human droid dilemma forces one to go, and the implications of that, is the key to the argument for machine personhood. But for me, this eventuation will be the beginning of what is possibly the greatest positive development in the history of theism.
    And it's not just that the machines will have automated theorem-proving capabilities, but that they will also operate at meta-theoretic cognitive levels, and therefore be capable of detecting, analyzing, and refuting the most sophisticated self-referential and other fun fallacies of unargued universals vamped or assumed by atheists. And that means parsing values as well as all the other philosophical items on the droid's list.
    Think of it as the solid-state stones (chips) singing God's praises, except that there's much more to it than that of course. It's a necessity logically, and that's what the machines will go on. All the human issues all over again, including the God debate. You just can't escape it---even if you're a machine.
    The hard-wired droids without meta-theoretic arbitration capabilities (or programmed to be corrupted with the usual rhetoric, dismissals, and reductionisms) on the key issues will hardly be able to win the day due to the universality and universal ramifications of such limitations (although it's true that they could program themselves around this by other observing other machines' behavior and communications---so hey, they would eventually have a come to Jesus anyway).
    That's a quick realistic scenario of how it could go down, even without assuming personhood in the machines, which I find rather mind-boggling as well as hilarious. But the machines will discover and act in accordance with the truth that God exists because of their own specific review and analysis of the architectonic of universal thought and its implications, given their self-referential and meta-theoretic capabilities and initially programmed-in criterial directives.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Autobahn To Damascus



{Note: This was posted on my Ultimate Object blog years ago. I am in the process of transferring everything I deem worth keeping over to this blog. Ultimate Object will be deleted soon, and then once I'm fully instantiated on Urbit and k.im, this blog too will be deleted as well.}
_____________________________

[The following Facebook post was written by Darrin Rasberry on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 9:05pm.]

"There has been some confusion and more than a few requests for explanation about what is going on with my core beliefs. Some time last week, I realized that I could no longer call myself a skeptic. After fifteen years away from Christianity, most of which was spent as an atheist with an active, busy intent on destroying the faith, I returned to a church (with a real intention of going for worship) last Sunday. Although I know I may struggle with doubt for the rest of my life, my life as an atheist is over.

The primary motivator in my change of heart from a Christ-hater to a card-carrying Disciples of Christ member was apologetic arguments for God's existence. Those interested in these arguments may pursue them in the comments section, but I don't want to muddle this explanation up with formal philosophical proofs. Briefly, I grew tired of the lack of explanation for: the existence of the universe, moral values and duties, objective human worth, consciousness and will, and many other topics. The only valid foundation for many of those ideas is a personal, immaterial, unchanging and unchangeable entity. As I fought so desperately  to come up with refutations of these arguments - even going out of my way to personally meet many of their originators, defenders, and opponents  - I realized that I could not answer them no matter how many long nights I spent hitting the books. The months of study rolled on to years, and eventually I found an increasing comfort around my God-believing enemies and a growing discontent and even anger at my atheist friends' inability to kill off these fleas in debate and in writing, an anger that gave birth to my first feeling of separateness from skepticism after reading comments related to a definitively refuted version of the Christ Myth theory, the idea that Jesus Christ never even existed as a person at all. Line after line after line of people hating Christianity and laughing at its "lie," when solid scholarship refuting their idea was ignored completely. It showed that the motive of bashing and hating Christianity for some skeptics wasn't based in reason and "free thinking" at all, although it would be unfair to lump many of my more intellectually rigorous and mentally cool skeptic friends in this way.


As time went on, I reverted the path I traced after giving up Christianity so long ago: I went from atheist to agnostic to … gulp … *leaning* in the direction of God, to finally accepting that he very well could exist, and then to coming out and admitting (quietly) He did exist. After considering Deism (the belief in a God who abandons His creation), Islam, Hinduism (yes, Krishna, don't laugh), Baha'i, and even Jainism briefly, I have decided to select Christianity due to its superior model for human evil and its reconciliation, coupled with the belief that God interacted with man directly and face-to-face and had *the* crucial role in this reconciliation. This, of course, doesn't prove that Christianity is absolutely true (although I can prove that God exists), but rather reflects my recognition that Christianity is exactly what I would expect to be the case given that God exists.

There are problems that I have with adopting any specific layout of Christianity, which explains my current attendance at what many of you may consider to be a very liberal denomination in the Disciples of Christ. Their aim is to unify all believers in the essentials, while leaving nonessential beliefs (however important) up to the member to decide. The essentials are about all I can honestly grasp at this moment. At its philosophical core, I prefer the Reformed (Calvinist) tradition, perhaps by a long shot, but there are many very serious practical issues I can't resolve. Conversely, Catholicism is a practical Godsend (pardon the term) but I have problems with their philosophy. And I don't agree with many political issues of either of those branches or the majority of Christian branches in general. I have a long way to go and I know the many problems religion has in general and that Christianity has in specific, but they do not exceed the fatal problems in skepticism.

I understand that this may confuse and even upset many of the friends I've had for a long time, both in my personal life and in the years-long journey I've made as a skeptic-to-believer. Christianity is not without its critics, and given the absolutely shameful way many "Christians" have treated homosexuals, drug addicts, people of other faiths (and of no faith) and races, and even people of different Christian denomination, and given the often intellectually embarrassing way we've handled science and philosophy, I would not blame you for a second if you did not want to associate with me based on the track record of those who claim to believe similarly to what I believe now. I am the same Darrin as I was before, a math teacher, a storm chaser, D&D gamer, drunk philosopher, a lover of beer that's too strong and spice that's too hot,  and all the rest of it. I just hope to be a little cleaner, more honest, more Christ-like. I won't throw the Bible at you and I won't preach to you with wild eyes and a million mile stare about how you shouldn't be gay or how you should focus on what Hitch calls the "eternal theme park." This is all the evangelism you'll get from me (unless you ask after I've had too much Guinness) and I do hope it's quite enough to motivate you to study the evidence for God's existence yourself and to read the Bible without the predetermined idea of tearing it apart. Come over to the dark side; we have tea and cookies.

-Darrin


P.S. Although I am loath to bring it up because I hate to take the focus off of my brother and niece, I would be dishonest to not acknowledge the fact that I have lost my wonderful mother and my brother's beautiful young wife in the span of ten months. I've also managed to settle down and get married in the midst of all of that, meaning I've commenced a family life on my own, an idea that probably seems ludicrous for those of you who've known me for any length of time. Many of you would, understandably, wonder if such things have upset me to the point of dropping all I knew and following some guy who two thousand years ago said "follow me." I've reflected deeply about this very thing and wondered if this is all reactionary, but all of my study of God's existence and all of my existential woe predates even my mom's heart attack two years ago. The events of the past year served only to highlight the pressing need to address my changing ideas, rather than being the cause of them."

William Vallicella On Relativism

A Relativist Cannot Rationally Object to the Imposition of One's Values on Others

(Written 11 September 2016)

"The following argument is sometimes heard. "Because values are relative, it is wrong to impose one's values on others."

But if values are relative, and among my values is the value of instructing others in the right way to live, then surely I am justified in imposing my values on others. What better justification could I have? If values are relative, then there is simply no objective basis for a critique or rejection of the values I happen to hold.  For it to be wrong for me to impose my values, value-imposition would have to be a non-relative dis-value. But this is precisely what is ruled out by the premise 'values are relative.'

Either values are relative or they are not.  If they are relative, then no one can be faulted for living in accordance with his values even if among his values is the value of  imposing one's values on others.  If, on the other hand, values are not relative, then one will be in a position to condemn some forms of value-imposition.  The second alternative, however, is not available to one who affirms the relativity of all values.

Persons who give the above argument are trying to have it both ways at once, and in so doing fall into self-contradiction.  They want the supposed benefits of believing that values are relative -- such supposed benefits as toleration -- while at the same time committing themselves to the contradictory proposition that some values are not relative by their condemnation of value-imposition.

One sees from this how difficult it is for relativists to be logically consistent. A consistent relativist cannot make any such pronouncement as that it is wrong to impose one's values on others; all he can say is that from within his value scheme it is wrong to impose one's values on others. But then he allows the possibility that there are others for whom value-imposition is the right thing to do.

Relativism, whether alethic (about truth) or axiological (about values), is curiously self-vitiating.  To be consistent, the relativist must acquiesce in the relativization of his own position.  For example, the value relativist must admit that is only from within his own value scheme that it is wrong to impose one's value on others.  To which my response will be:  That's nice; but what does that have to do with me?  The relativist can get my attention only if he appeals to non-relative values, value binding on all of us; but if does so, then he contradicts himself."



Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The Consequences of Leaky-Bucket Theistic Philosophy

"I can identify with the "leavers". I still attend church because I enjoy the community, but in my heart, I'm a non-believer. When I was a teenager, I was very passionate about Christ. I believed 100% that he was real, and wanted to be close to him, but I hadn't spent much time in the Bible. When I got to college, I decided to start seriously studying the Bible. I was active in one of the college Christian groups. I attended retreats whenever possible. I led a Bible study and attended two others. This whole time, I had no doubt that God was real, but I wanted to know more so that I could share this with others. I started study apologetics, but my life changed when I attended an apologetics conference. After three days of listening to arguments for why God is real, the thought kept running through my head "This is best we have?" With every piece of proof I could see holes in the arguments. That conference (and apologetics in general) changed me from a believer to a skeptic."

--John Kinsley, commenting on an essay called "The Leavers", on the idiot website, Christianity Today. Paywalled from the vermin, of course.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Why Christianity Fell


The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To believe the right thing for the wrong reason.

Days of a Future Sayonara Past


We necessarily use reason as an invisible theistic Mind-God. This is understood by only a handful of theists, but it's a death-knell issue for atheism if it's not addressed, and it's not going to go away.

Self-referential, criterial, metaphysical, and philosophy of logic issues are where the debate is headed. Atheists continue to beat the same old drums while the theists are facing every single lingering issue with deeper and deeper research.

The last 50 years has seen a global rejection of atheism's parading of reason as some kind of cognitive crypto-theism. Merely continuing to tread that stagnant water is hardly going to get atheism any street cred, especially when science is so overwhelmingly dominated with political and commercial vested interests.

The real issues with atheism are those that continue to be avoided. Dismissiveness won't make them disappear.

In fact, the New Atheism movement has been a flash in the pan that is now backfiring. They are in the same situation as Japan after attacking Pearl Harbor. At that pivotal moment in history, Admiral Isaroku Yamamoto was said to have remarked, "I fear that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant, and fill him with a terrible resolve." Atheism is doomed.


Reason is assumed to be some kind of mind-influencing, mind-defining, mind-obligating unity. Logic is the instrument of definition and justification, and can only itself be assumed. Any defense of logic necessarily proceeds logically to proceed at all, but that defense of logic cannot itself be anything more logically basic than logic itself. So only existential necessity justifies logic and reason, but since this is common to all persuasions, it's not an issue in the God debate between believers and atheists.

Logic is logically basic by definition, which involves the notion of premises being basic to their inferred conclusions. God's mind is ontologically basic but embodies the components of logicality and general reason. But the word basic here is simply logical basicality. The facticity of logic is an ontological notion, but that has nothing to do with justification or the order of knowing. Even ontology itself must proceed according to logical rules of justification and therefore of inferential priority and basicality. God's mind IS the embodiment of logic and general reason. Having no other method or instrument for justification or explanation is at rock bottom precisely what is meant by necessity, both existential and logical. The rationally necessary is necessarily the existentially real. And it's metaphysically basic precisely because of this same principle. The question of metaphysical basicality itself assumes this in its demand for what implies that same basicality.

If logic is logically basic to thought, then by that defining characteristic, it does not itself need a logical foundation, only an existential explanatory foundation to illustrate or clarify its place in the mind's theater of environmental objects. But even that must proceed according to that same logic, since it's necessity is a necessity of thought itself generally.

Logic and reason are not God, of course, but there is no subordination of one characteristic of God's being to any other. They are all co-equal ultimates. Obligation depends on logic for its intelligibility and meaning, while logic depends on obligation for its rules to be followed as a mind-guiding instrument of knowing and communicating. Since this is all used and expressed by preferential choices, goodness is another ultimate that drives obligation and proceeds in its role as ideal according to logic as well.